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Handling Complaints and Irate Customers in 2023

I just tried to buy another Bluetooth headset for my son for his birthday at Best Buy. The employee was not very effective. He could not find my account after giving him my phone number 3 times. I asked for a manager. It took him a few seconds to find my account and I told him I wanted his help because the employee was ineffective and did not know his job.

The manager would not help me and insisted I apologize to the employee which I would not. He refused to let me buy the $247 headset so I went to Amazon, placed the order, and had it delivered to his home in Estes Park Colorado. I guess I was crazy to not just go to Amazon first. I had a 2 year warranty at Best Buy I took out in January on the previous headset which my son lost in less than 3 weeks after buying the $100 warranty that I wanted to take advantage of.

The manager, Chalpulke asked me several times to lower my voice. The funny thing is I was not raising my voice. Very few employees have been trained to handle complaints and irate customers. Most could care less if they lose a customer. This manager refused to let me buy unless I apologized to an employee who was incompetent. What is worse he lied saying the system doesn’t always work to cover for the employee. In the US I find that a huge percentage of employees lie when there is a problem.

Lessons to Be Learned

Always train employees before you put them on the job.

The first employee was not trained on how to use Best Buy’s systems. I had NO confidence in him. The Feelings Concept is based on 6 skills.
  1. Feel Good About Yourself
  2. Provide Caring Communication
  3. Provide Positive Communication both verbal and non verbal
  4. Deliver Results
  5. Listen
  6. Learn About Your Job

Listening to the customer was the first problem. I suspect the employee never listened to my phone number even though I gave it slowly to him at least 3 times. The second is to learn everything about your job. You can tell in seconds if an employee does not know what they are doing. I was at the checkout Best Buy area and he obviously did not know how to use the system.

This Richfield Minnesota store is their flagship store about four blocks from the corporate headquarters. They just spent millions redesigning the interior of the store. Their mistake is they spent NO money training their staff on how to handle customers or how to deliver great customer service.

You do not need to become irate before employees go crazy

The manager in this situation’s attitude was to protect the employee. He could care less if I never came back. Most employees feel customers are a dime a dozen. Who cares if you lose a few customers a day? The employees never knew what I wanted to buy. I figured if the employee could not find my account, what I was trying to buy would be way over his head.

Employees need to learn how to:
  1. Diffuse irate customer encounters.
  2. Overcome difficult situations with customers.
  3. Develop a routine to handle problems.
  4. Recover following stressful encounters.

The manager taught the employee that the customer was wrong. It’s OK to refuse to sell to a customer. You do not need to know your job and the manager will protect you. You can blow the customer off even if they don’t want to work with you. Service Quality Institute has a program called Handling Irate Customers, if you would like to train your staff on handling complaints and irate customers,

Best Buy has NO way to complain.

I called the store but they would not let me talk to the store manager. Never complain to an employee. It is a waste of time. Very few customers complain. They just never come back. It costs 10 times more money to get a new customer than to keep one. Make it easy for a customer to submit a complaint.  The Richfield store and its corporate headquarters had no way to complain. This is really stupid.

In 1979 when I developed the world’s first customer service program, Feelings,  companies were spending millions of dollars on advertising and capital improvements and as the customer walked in the store they (figuratively) issued baseball bats to hit the customer on the head so they would not come back. In 2023 it is the same as in 1979. I think customer service is maybe worse today. Very few companies want to compete with Amazon. A $44.2 billion increase in sales in 2022 I guess is too much for most firms. Most CEOs do not want to have a $149 billion dollar net worth like Jeff Bezos. I guess too much money.

Spend time and money every year developing a customer-driven workforce

Intellectually all employees know customer service is critical. They just don’t deliver a great customer experience.

New Ownership – New Management- Awful Customer Service

The little True Valu Hardware store I have been going to for the last 20 years has new ownership and new management. In a previous newsletter, I featured them about 8 years ago because everyone has always been a “10.”   Virtually all the employees have left. The new ones know very little and have no follow-up.

I bought an apartment building across the street in August and went over there to see if they have corporate accounts. The manager said their computer system was down and they would get back to me. (I find most employees lie. Rarely do I believe what employees tell me) I went back 4 days later and the manager said only the owner could set this up and he would be in the next day and would call me. It has now been over 5 weeks. I keep buying from Home Depot.

The new ownership does not value customer service or skilled employees. I suspect they will over the next year lose half of their customers. It would have been so easy for my handymen to walk across the street and buy. Home Depot is a customer service role model.